Dove season is right around the corner and opens September 1st. There is still time to get that shotgun out of the safe and practice before opening day. Depending on which survey you read, hunters fire somewhere between 3 and 5 shots per bird. The current cost of shotgun shells makes each dove we put in the bag worth around a $1.00 or more in shell costs alone, not even counting all the other expenditures for a hunt. Even if you go on a social dove hunt for the fun and comradery, I find the better the shooter does the more enjoyable the hunt, especially when hunting with friends. I have noticed that most hunters enjoy being one the best shots on the field or at least to have bragging rights to getting their daily limit of birds.
Having been a shotgun coach and shooting instructor for many years I am often asked what is the one thing that will make someone a better gunner. There is no magic thing you can do and being a really good shotgun shooter takes a lot of hard work and practice. Even the pros practice regularly to stay on top of their game. I can however tell you one thing that will make you a better shot no matter your level. It is FOCUS.
There are no sights on a shotgun only a bead. I call it the miss-me-bead because if you look at the bead you will usually miss your target and shoot behind the bird. You should see the shotgun bead only in your peripheral vision. Your eyes are your rear and front sight on a shotgun and that is why focus is so important. You must focus intently on your target and not let your eyes drift to anything else while firing the shot. You notice I say “eyes”; both eyes should always be open when shooting. Many of you will remember the saying “Aim small miss small”, in shot gunning this means focus on the front of the bird not the whole bird. When one focuses on the whole target they will usually shoot behind. Have you ever shot at dove and seen a stream of tail feathers when you shot. This happens a lot if you focus on the whole bird. Try to see the bill or eye of the dove when shooting. I have had people tell me that while they were hunting at a stock tank, where the shots were close, that they have actually seen a dove blink when they were focused on the eye of the bird.
Focus on the eye or bill of the bird and remember you have to lead dove, so mount on the head and pull out in front and pull the trigger. If you miss be sure and increase your lead. Remember if the first of the shot in your shot string goes behind the bird, they will all go behind. Stay focused on the bird and shoot to miss in front of the bird and I bet you will put more birds in the bag. Remember above all to be safe and have a good time. Wild Ed